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Bridges can connect and build communities or they can bypass them, creating isolation and decline.
This site is dedicated to an understanding of the need for the three bridges that cross the Piscataqua River, connecting Portsmouth, NH and Kittery, ME.


Memorial Bridge Completion - soon!

It will not be long now!  The center span of the Memorial Bridge will be floated into place this evening at 1:00 AM, June 17.  The float in and attachment will take about 12 hours.  Once the bridge is attached, Archer Western will take another 4-6 weeks to bring the bridge to operational status.

That means that the bridge will be open for bike, pedestrian, and vehicular traffic some time during the latter half of July.  The NH DOT and Archer Western are being careful about making any firm commitments on the date until they are certain that they will be able to make the date.

One thing is sure.  There will be a ribbon cutting ceremony, followed by making the entire bridge open to pedestrian traffic for the rest of the day.  Then, during the late night hours, the road barriers will be removed and the bridge will be open to vehicular traffic. 

And for about a couple of years, we will have three bridges.

memorial bridge illumination

Archer Western Donation Completes the Illumination Goal

The Illumination Committee has met its major goal of raising $200,000 to install the lighting on the Memorial Bridge.  Archer Western Corporation has generously donated $50,000 to the effort to install the lighting on the bridge.  Steve DelGrosso made the donation in an event that took place in the shadow of the bridge.

The committee accepted the donation and is pleased to say that it is moving forward with the ordering of the lighting, and the scheduling of the actual installation.

Fundraising Meets first milestone

The Illumination Committee has now met its first milestone in fund raising for the Memorial Bridge project.  With commitments of more than $125,000 they have entered the second phase of the fund raising.  In this phase, they will begin collecting the funds already committed from existing pledges while continuing to gather pledges to meet the goal of $150,000.

Tower Lighting Test this week

Later this week, there will be a test illumination of the South Tower of the bridge.  The contractors will lift one of the lights to the top of the South Tower to demonstrate what the eventual installation will look like.  The illumination will probably take place Tuesday (March 26) through Thursday(March 28) evenings from dusk for about an hour.

It is hoped that the test illumination will encourage the rest of the community to donate for the installation of the proposed lighting.

Test Illumination Successful and Delightful!

Friday, February 15, 2013 - As we approach a milestone in our fund drive to illuminate the new Memorial Bridge, the Illumination Committee tested out one of the lighting fixtures on the south span of the new bridge, just to see how thing looked.  And the answer is D-light-ful!

The test took place from 6PM till 7PM tonight, and illuminated the upstream side of the truss span.  The plans are to illuminate the towers and piers, but since they are not yet in place, the test was done horizontally on the truss portion of the flanking span.  We wanted to see how the illumination would compare to the ambient light from the Navy Yard and Portsmouth.  The pictures below speak for themselves.  The test included a variety of colors, and the bridge and the lighting fixture performed well.

Fundraising Kicks Off

Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - Members of the Illumination Sub-committee of the Memorial Bridge Community Involvement Committee announced today that they are raising funds to illuminate the Memorial Bridge, to make it a night-time attraction in addition to being a daytime icon for the Seacoast.  The illumination, which is compliant with New Hampshire's Dark Skies initiative will accent the towers, piers, and Memorial Plaques on the Bridge. 

The illumination is designed by John Powell who designed the illumination of the bridges crossing the Charles River between Boston and Cambridge, MA.  The lighting has the ability to accent the structure of the bridge to enhance its natural appearance. 

Fundraising is taking place in two phases:  The first focuses on gathering pledges from the community.  When we have reached our initial goal in pledges, we will work with the Portsmouth Historical Society (our partner throughout this entire process) to collect the pledges and fund the actual installation of the illumination.

You can pledge by clicking this link.  Those who contribute $1,000 or more will receive recognition on a plaque to be mounted adjacent to the Memorial Bridge. All donations will be recognized in the Memorial Bridge Dedication Brochure.

We are looking forward to wide community support in this project.

local band honors the memorial bridge

Tan Vampires, a local NH band has published a video that features the Memorial and Sarah Mildred Long Bridges as a backdrop for the song.  It is on the Memorial Bridge Page on this site.  Click Here

UNH Students research tidal power on new memorial bridge

Annually, UNH sponsors the Undergraduate Research Competition, where teams of students research projects in their respective fields.  This year one of the teams in the Civil and Environmental Engineering department researched the possibility of harvesting energy from the tidal flow of the Piscataqua River at the site of the Memorial Bridge. 

The team of Ryan D. Henley, Daniel P. Berry, Ellen Marie LaMonica, and Vincenzo P. Bartucca were advised by Professors Erin Bell, and Kenneth C. Baldwin.  They worked with Archer Western and the NH Department of Transportation bridge team as well in their research.

The results of the research indicate that turbines attached to the Portsmouth pier of the Memorial Bridge could be capable of producing approximately 35 kilowatt hours of electricity per day on a predictable basis.  This would result in harvesting a small percentage of the total power contained in the tidal flow, which is important to the overall environmental health of the river and Great Bay.

Community Involvement Teams are currently working with NH DOT to investigate whether the tidal power can be used to power the lighting that is under discussion for the new bridge.

Attention moves to the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge - New or rehab?

The Sarah Mildred Long Bridge is now becoming the focus of attention.  The question is whether a rehab of the existing bridge will be obsolete before it is even finished.  To understand the issue we need to cover a bit of history, and activities on a global scale, and the money issue.

How we got to the rehab Decision

New Hampshire and Maine spent more than a year and about $2 million on a study to determine how many and what kinds of bridges to have crossing the Piscataqua River.  The conclusion of the study was that there was a need for three bridges, and that the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge played a key role in the process.  The decision to select the rehab option was based on several factors, including cost, and the ability to put the Long Bridge and the Memorial Bridge on differing life cycles.  There was a recognition that maritime traffic would continue to have the same restrictions as with the existing SML bridge, but little was said about the future of the vessels that would be using the Port of Portsmouth.  In short, the decision was a compromise that was thought to continue the same risks we have today with the existing bridge.

Global Shifts in Maritime Traffic

While all the discussion was going on, Panama was in the process of making major changes to the Panama Canal.  These changes will allow wider and longer ships to take the short-cut from the Pacific to the Atlantic and vice versa.  The Port of Long Beach, California is anticipating that when the new canal opens, they could lose up to 50% of their port activity.  That activity will shift to the east coast of the US, to ports in Miami, Charleston, Savannah, Baltimore, New York, and on to Portsmouth and Portland.  The port facilities in each of those locations have to be prepared to receive the larger vessels, or lose the port business altogether.  

The most severe restriction in the Port of Portsmouth is the width of the passage through the SML bridge.  It is narrower than that of the Memorial Bridge, and sets at a 30 degree angle to the channel and current making it a risky passage even with the current sized vessels.  It is entirely possible that the newer vessels will be unable to safely transit the SML bridge, effectively shutting down the port activity in Newington.

Where you gonna get the money?

The connections study identified the need for a new Memorial Bridge ($84 million) and a rehabbed SML Bridge ($100+ million).  The study did not say where the money would come from, but it selected these options with the knowledge that the money would not be easy to find.  In October of 2010, Governors Lynch(NH) and Baldacci(ME) formed a task force to address the funding issue.  The result of the task force report was a plan to secure federal funding for both the Memorial Bridge and the SML bridge.  Just a few weeks after the joint task force was created, Secretary LaHood (USDOT) awarded $20 million in TIGER funding for the Memorial Bridge.  

The funding task force then tried to address the long term funding for both the SML and the I-95 bridges.  The funding scenario they put forward for the SML bridge contains an "expected contribution" from the US Navy of $30 million.  With the current federal budget situation, and with the target reductions of military spending it is highly unlikely that the Navy is going to contribute $30 million to the bridge. 

And in this climate we are considering widening the SML channel and center span.  Initial estimates indicate that it may be more cost effective to build a new bridge rather than just trying to lengthen the existing center span.  But in any event, the price tag is going up.  Will it be 60% more expensive or even more?  We still don't know.  And we have no plan for how to pay for it even if we do decide to make it accessible to larger vessels.

Stay tuned.

Construction has started - Float out feb 6-9

The old Memorial Bridge is closed, and the preparations for the removal of the old bridge are starting.  The old bridge will be floated out over a three day period starting Monday, February 6.  During that time period, the river will be closed to maritime traffic, and the work will be done on a 24-hour schedule.  Use the link at the right to see the time laps pictures of the construction process.

Construction Starts January 9

January 5, 2012 - The Memorial Bridge will be closed at 8AM on Monday, January 9th.  From that point on, construction work will proceed, and we can look forward to having a new bridge on July 3, 2013.

The shuttle service is scheduled to start on January 9th as well.  It will run from 5AM to 1AM, 7 days a week.  The shuttle will operate on an hourly schedule.  Kittery departures on the hour from Water and Newmarch Streets.  Portsmouth departures on the half hour from Bow and Daniel Streets.

construction to start Soon

December 31, 2011 - It is only days from the early closing of the Memorial Bridge.  That means we can start seeing construction on the bridge within the next two weeks.  

In the column on the right are links that will take you to the recent additions to the site.  Learn more about the new bridge.  What it is, and what it is not.  Enjoy.  Happy New Year!  

Now build the bridge!

contractor selected for the new memorial bridge:  565 day construction plan

October 13, 2011 - Today the NH DOT opened the final bids from three contractors and identified the preliminary selection of the contractor to build the new Memorial Bridge.  The selected contractor is Archer Western Contractors (AWC) from Atlanta, GA.  Their bid of $84.4 million was the highest contract amount bid, but their time schedule of 565 days was almost three months shorter than the other two bids.  

When the price was adjusted for schedule, the three bids were within about $1 million of one another.  The deciding factor in the selection came down to the technical evaluation score.  AWCs bid was about six percentage points higher than the next closest bid on the technical score.

The next step is for the NH DOT to do a detailed review of the financial proposal, and if the review is positive, then move through the state and federal approval processes.  The NH DOT has set the end of November as a target date for completion of the contracting process.

The selection took place a week ahead of the previously announced schedule.  The proposed schedule of 565 days could mean that the new Memorial Bridge would be available for usage as early as August 2013.

So to summarize, the bid goes to the highest bidder, not the lowest.  But the schedule is the shortest, and the technical plans ranked the best.  The bid is within the budgeted amount.  What's not to like?

coming full circle:  "Lift off:  say farewell to the memorial bridge

We are having a send off celebration for the decaying and much beloved Memorial Bridge.  On October 1st, in Prescott Park, we will be celebrating almost 90 years of service of the bridge.  In the very near future, we will know which of the bidding companies will take on the task of removing the existing bridge, and replacing it with a new and more capable structure.  But in the mean time, we are going to celebrate the bridge.

"Lift Off" will feature food provided by Kittery businesses, games and music in Prescott Park; lobster, oysters and a beer garden for grown-ups at One Harbor Place; a ferry ride between our two shores; and a ribbon tying-up ceremony featuring Eileen Foley, who, as a little girl, cut the ribbon on Memorial Bridge when it opened in 1923. The events of the afternoon will be capped off with a burst of fireworks at 7:30 p.m. "Lift-Off" is co-hosted by Prescott Park Arts Festival, Seacoast Local and 3S Artspace, with strong support from One Harbor Place and the Greater Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce.

New section on the site:  Getting there from here!

On the navigation above you will find a new page that is a work in progress.  It is designed to provide directions for getting from one side of the river to the other.  In addition to providing directions, we will try to make sure that all the various businesses on both sides have at least a mention.  The first cut at this is focused on Kittery businesses, but we will expand this to include as many as possible on both sides of the river.

In Kittery we are using the new names for the areas in Kittery.  Hopefully the signage will be moving along quickly to reinforce the new area names.

memorial bridge closed to vehicular traffic

July 27, 2011-The NH DOT announced today that the Memorial Bridge will be closed permanently to vehicular traffic.  The deterioration has been more than can now be repaired.  The bridge will remain closed until the new bridge is completed and opened, which will be in June 2014.

Kittery and Portsmouth have been planning for this eventuality, but have been hoping that the closing could be delayed until next fall.  Now the contingency plans will have to be put in place immediately.

Bridge funding secured

As reported in today's Portsmouth Herald, the funding for the replacement of the Memorial Bridge is finally secure.  Securing the funds during the current debate on reducing overall governments spending was a difficult process.  It required extraordinary effort from many people in multiple governmental units.  What is so impressive is how well they all worked together.

Just to name a few, and to note their contributions:

  • Senator Susan Collins - was one of the deciding votes to authorize the TIGER funding as a part of the Stimulus bill; as a member of the Transportation Committee, she provided input to the US Department of Transportation that focused their attention on the Memorial Bridge Project, and its importance to the Seacoast.
  • Senator Jeanne Shaheen - provided strong support throughout the process, and made it clear that NH was behind the project.
  • Senator Olympia Snowe - was another of the deciding votes to authorize the Stimulus bill, and provided continuing support through the process.
  • Representative Chellie Pingree - provided the emphasis needed from the US House of Representatives, stressing the need for the both the bridge and the funding.

Memorial bridge reopened

From NH DOT Press Release

The New Hampshire Department of Transportation (NHDOT) announces repair work on the closed Memorial Bridge that carries US Route 1 over the Piscataqua River between Portsmouth, New Hampshire and Kittery, Maine has been completed and the bridge is scheduled to be reopened to motor vehicle traffic at 12:00 pm today (12/18).

The Memorial Bridge was closed to motor vehicle traffic on December 9.

“Dedicated bridge maintenance personnel and dry weather have allowed the reopening of the Memorial Bridge to occur much quicker than anticipated,” says NHDOT Commissioner George Campbell.“These crews have worked long days to make sure the Memorial Bridge is safe to reopen.We are also pleased that businesses and residents on both sides of the Piscataqua River will once again have all three Portsmouth-Kittery bridges in full operation.”

The Memorial Bridge will be reopened at the previous three-ton weight limit.The sidewalk on the upstream side of the bridge will remain closed for a couple of days to complete non-structural work, while the sidewalk on the downstream side of the bridge will remain open.Lift operations will continue for marine traffic.

multiple issues in the rush to replace the memorial bridge

We have the Bi-State Bridge Funding Task Force, and the Memorial Bridge design and contracting processes all going on at the same time.  There are a bundle of issues that need to be dealt with simultaneously.  With all this going on at the same time, there is a natural tendency to get the issues mixed up with one another.  The next week or so, I will try to sort things out.  There is no doubt that some impinge on one another, but many of the issues can be dealt with separately, and should be.

The issues I will be trying to address fall generally into the following categories:

  • Design of the replacement for the Memorial Bridge
  • Decision to rehab the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge
  • Funding of the three bridges
    • Impact of the Maine Turnpike Administration's proposed purchase of the Kittery-York section of I-95
    • Multiple sources of revenue to fund the three bridges
    • Tolling decisions (one of the sources of revenue)

Each of these is a complex issue, and we all need help in sorting the issues out.  There will be many points of view in this process, but we need to have a rational framework to be able to deal with the decisions.

I will try to deal with these issues in the order above, and hope to generate a lively discussion on all the subjects.  This will be a different discussion from the Save Our Bridges! discussion, where there was so much agreement.  There will be many points of view, and we all need to be ready to listen to all of them.  I will probably take a position, but my position may not reflect everyone's point of view.  I am prepared for that.  I hope everyone else is as well.

In the end, I hope to educate all of us, so that whatever conclusions we come to will be well informed.  Also, I do make mistakes.  If I need to correct some facts, I will do so.  I depend on each of you to help with that process.


Let the excitement begin!

Memorial bridge replacement "all ahead full"

The activity level has gone from the struggling move forward to an all out rush to completion.  The completion of the funding package with the award of $20 million from the US Department of Transportation has given the project life.  The funding is in place.  The next steps are:

  • Completing the preliminary designs
  • Completing the historical review
  • Completing the environmental review
  • Gaining approval to use the "Design-Build" approach
  • Selecting a contractor to do the work

All of these are in process on a parallel basis.

Preliminary Design Renderings Available

Follow this link to the New Memorial Bridge page on this site.  On it you will find renderings of what the new bridge may look like.  They are computer produced pictures, but you will see that the new bridge will look much like the old one, at least until you get close to it.

When you get close to the new bridge, it will be significantly different.  No more flaking lead based paint.  Bicycles will be able to ride across the whole bridge in 5' wide lanes.  And pedestrians will not have to dodge and weave around bridge worker shelters.

But it will be a while till we get to walk across the new one.  Stay tuned.

a big step forward - from "What" to "how"

On October 5th, Governors Lynch (NH) and Baldacci (ME) made a joint announcement that they will replace the Memorial Bridge, and that they would form a task force to determine how to fund the three bridges on a sustainable basis.  Between now and December 15th, the joint task force will work to define how to finance the three bridges through the 21st century. 

The decision is clear concerning the Memorial Bridge, but is less so with the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge.  The Connections Study will be released in public draft in the next week or so...or so.  We will have six weeks for public comment before it becomes final.

Now we move on to the next phase

There is still work to be done.  The task force will develop recommendations that must be acted upon by the next Maine legislature and the next Maine Governor.  That means that we still have a significant education process ahead of us.  We also need to hold the new Governor (whomever that will be) to any commitments made during the campaign.  See the candidates positions by clicking here.

Lots of work to get Construction Going on Memorial Bridge

Before work can begin on the Memorial Bridge replacement, both states need to complete the environmental and historical reviews.  The funding needs to be in place.  Hopefully we will receive a USDOT TIGER grant.  And there needs to be agreement on a preliminary design.  Then we will see the "Design-Build" process in action.  This process can significantly reduce total construction project time.  The prediction is that construction can start as soon as next fall.  Let's hope HNDOT can keep the bridge operational till then.


The infamous Maine New Hampshire Connections Study continues in its seemingly perpetual state of suspended animation.  The study was to be completed in June.  Then in July it was to be done in July.  Then in August by the end of August.  Now we are nearing the end of September, the latest of the self imposed rolling deadlines, and no indication of a completion.  Governor Baldacci has said in a couple of public statements that he will be coming to Kittery, but repeated attempts to pin him down on a date have been futile.

Our strategy must be clear - The focus is on Maine's new Government

Our focus must be on the next Maine Administration and Legislature.  It is increasingly apparent that the decisions will be left to the next crew to go to Augusta.  Even if a decision is made prior to January, the new legislature and administration will need to review it.

We have already talked with each Gubernatorial candidate

I am not endorsing any candidate for Governor.  In our analysis, there are no clear cut choices.  What we need to do is to have a clear cut approach in mind for whichever candidate is elected.  For our analysis of the Gubernatorial Candidates and their positions on the Memorial Bridge, see the linked article

Educate the New Legislature next

Beginning in November we need to establish contact with the new Legislature and explain to them our rationale for why the Memorial Bridge is essential for all of Maine, not just for Kittery and York County.  We are in the process of building that logic and gathering the data to support it.  As we pull this together, we will post our thoughts.

We need to educate the Legislature because they have historically controlled where the Department of Transportation spends their money.  Realistically, the DOT provides some guidance for where the money is to be spent, but the decision is made in the Legislature.  And the Legislature controls the spending.  They also control the bonding process.  Whatever the bridge plan selected, it will have to be funded through some bonding process.

Continue pressure on the governor

We have met with all the Gubernatorial candidates.  Depending on the result of the election, we will have to modify our approach and tactics.  But they all have come to our information sessions, and have seen the condition of the Bridges.  

Educate the Voters in the whole state

Eventually, if everything goes well, the legislature and the governor will agree to issue bonds for the construction of the Bridge.  Then the bond issue will go to the electorate for a confirmatory vote.  At that point, we will need to educate the entire state.  We will already be working on the Chambers of Commerce within the state to get them behind the Memorial Bridge, but it will take effort and probably some money to do the communication for the whole state.

Maine offers half a loaf, lets new Hampshire file for funding on its own

As we read in this morning's Portsmouth Herald article, New Hampshire filed for TIGER II funding for replacement of the Memorial Bridge.  Thanks to all of you who clicked on the link below to send in your support as well.  It is a shame that that Maine's support was so lame in the process.  Let me clear things up:

New Hampshire submitted the Application on its own

The application for funding was submitted by New Hampshire alone.  This is in spite of the fact that the Memorial Bridge is jointly owned by both New Hampshire and Maine.  The US DOT made it clear earlier this year that for the application to make it past the first review it must be submitted by both states.  Only New Hampshire submitted the application for funding.  The application was sent under the signature of NH Commissioner of Transportation George Campbell.

Baldacci offered his "support" to the project

You probably read in the Portsmouth Herald article that Governor Baldacci sent a letter of support for the project.  His letter, along with that of NH Governor John Lynch, was filed in the application along with all the other 150 letters of support, giving it perhaps a little more weight than you own letters.  It was not a letter of submission.  In the first TIGER grant application both Governors signed the application for funding.  In this round, only New Hampshire signed on.

Notable by its absence was any support from Maine DOT

It is difficult to see what is not there, but in this case the absence is glaring.  There is no input to the proposal at all from the Maine Department of Transportation.  While Governor Baldacci's letter emphasizes that there is a need for extraordinary funding for the bridge projects, there is absolutely no effort from the Maine Department of Transportation to secure the "extraordinary funding" being offered by the TIGER II program.

Support from our US Senators and Representatives will be difficult

Senators Collins and Snowe have been especially helpful to us in this process.  Senator Collins put Secretary LaHood on record as giving our application for funding special attention.  Representative Chellie Pingree has been supportive in both Washington and in her contacts within the State government.  But the application will have to get through the first round of review before it gets to the Secretary's desk.  Since it is submitted by only one state, and since the support from Maine is tepid at best, we are unlikely to even get the chance to leverage the enthusiasm of our Senators and Representatives.  All in all, this has all the earmarks of a wild goose chase.

Our only hope is the next State Government

Sadly I have to classify the current administration in Augusta as hopeless.  MDOT was unable to agree on a solution a year ago, and forced the Connections Study.  A year has passed, more than $2 million of our tax dollars have been spent, and Maine and New Hampshire still disagree.  And the Memorial Bridge has gone from a 10 ton limit to a 3 ton limit.  Instead of a decision, we are being told there will be Alternatives presented.  That is where the process started.  I feel like a character in "Alice through the Looking Glass", but I am not sure which one.  To expect that anyone in Augusta will make a decision at this point is delusional.

Stay tuned for my take on the candidates.

Send an email of support for tiger II Funding

The application for TIGER II funding is being submitted on Monday, August 23rd.  It will be a joint application from both Maine and New Hampshire.  Governor Baldacci has sent a letter of endorsement for inclusion in the application.

What is needed now is an indication of community support.  We need letters (emails really) to be sent to NH DOT for inclusion in the application.  Please use this link to create an email directly to Bob Landry at NH DOT.  Your email will be posted with other parts of the application for this critical funding.

candidates coming to the seacoast to discuss the bridges

The first of the Maine Gubernatorial candidates has already come to Kittery to discuss the bridge issue.  Eliot Cutler came specifically to listen to the concerns of the business leaders from the community.  While he did not promise to support a specific solution to the problem, he did promise to solve the problem as a priority, if elected.

The Democrat candidate for Governor, Libby Mitchell, who is currently the President of the Maine Senate, will be in Kittery, on Tuesday, August 24th at the Weathervane on Badgers Island at 9AM.  The meeting is being promoted as a forum for local residents and business owners to provide Senator Mitchell with our point of view concerning the bridge issues.  Everyone is invited.

We have similar invitations out to the Republican Candidate Paul LePage and Shawn Moody (Independent).  We will keep you informed when their visit to the Seacoast is planned.

the battle is not over

We are coming to the end of the first phase of the battle to maintain the connections between New Hampshire and Maine.  That phase has to do with selecting the way in which we will be connected.  That is what the Connections Study is all about.  

The next phase, assuming the outcome is favorable, will be about the design and funding of the project to replace the Memorial Bridge.

Connections Study developing final report

The Maine NH Connections Study is in the final phase of the work, with a goal of delivering a final report by the end of August.  We originally thought that the study would deliver a single solution for the transportation issues in the Kittery-Portsmouth area.  But it is clear that two states that could not agree at the beginning of the process have made no progress in gaining agreement at the end of the process.

The remaining alternatives for solving the connections are the same as presented in late June:

  • Alternative 4 - Replace the Memorial Bridge and Rehab the Sarah Mildred Long (SML) Bridge
  • Alternative 6a - Replace the Memorial Bridge and Replace the SML bridge with a low level bridge slightly upstream from the current bridge.
  • Alternative 9 - Replace the Memorial Bridge and Replace the SML bridge with a hybrid bridge slightly upstream from the current bridge
  • Alternative 10 - Replace the Memorial Bridge with a Bike/Pedestrian Bridge and Replace the SML Bridge with a hybrid bridge slightly upstream from the current bridge.
  • Alternative 11 - Remove the Memorial Bridge completely and Replace the SML Bridge with a hybrid bridge slightly upstream from the current bridge.

What is clear is that the final selection of an alternative will fall into the hands of the two Transportation Commissioners and the two Governors.  What is not clear is when a decision will be made.

regional planning bodies weigh in on Alternatives

In the mean time, two regional boards who focus on the transportation impacts have considered the alternatives and have identified their preferred alternatives.  The two boards are the Kittery Area Comprehensive Transportation Study (KACTS) and the Rockingham County Planning Organization (MPO).  Both Boards came to identical conclusions and recommendations.  They were:

1. The Boards are in favor of a full replacement for the Memorial Bridge. The Memorial Bridge should be replaced with a facility that allows full access for motor vehicles, bikes and pedestrians. It should provide enhancements that improve the safety of bike traffic on the roadway, reduce conflicts between bikes and pedestrians, and provides more space for each on the bridge. The current bridge is a signature component of the Portsmouth/Kittery waterfront and should be replaced with a structure that is distinctive as well.

2. The Boards are supportive of replacing the Sarah Long Bridge with the “hybrid” bridge option. This design has a lot of potential to improve the flow of vehicle traffic and river traffic over a more traditional design or a rehabilitation of the existing structure.

3. The Boards are not supportive of the transit only alternative. The transit only alternative does not meet the goals of the study as listed in the purpose and need statement as it reduces accessibility and mobility, replaces non-motorized transportation with motorized transportation, and given the current state of funding for transit service in New Hampshire, is not likely to be financially viable in the long term.

4. The Boards are not supportive of the bicycle-pedestrian only replacement of the Memorial Bridge. The replacement of the Memorial Bridge with a bicycle and pedestrian only facility does not meet the purpose and need as it does nothing to improve the connectivity across the river, and creates local economic disruption particularly along US 1 in Kittery. In addition, we are concerned that the cost of operating and maintaining the pedestrian/bike bridge will fall on the City of Portsmouth.

we have made a difference

When we started this campaign, the message from Augusta was that they never hear from Kittery, and have no idea what is important to the people from the Seacoast.  That has changed.

We made an initial visit to Augusta to meet with Commissioner Cole, members of the Joint Transportation Committee, and the Governor's Chief of Staff, Jane Lincoln (from Kittery).  This started the education process.  We have sent individual letters from residents and businesses.  We sent a petition with more than 600 signatures.  We had a post card campaign that delivered almost 10,000 postcards, and have finally gotten press coverage from Maine Public Radio, the Portland Press Herald, in addition to our local papers.

Maine now knows who we are and what we want.  It has gotten to the point that they are now making the effort to say this is not a "popularity contest."  

Now we plan for moving forward

The Connections Study and the subsequent negotiations between the two states will produce one of three results:  one we favor, one we do not favor, or perhaps no decision at all.  To arrive at no decision would have been a waste of time and money.  I think it would be especially embarrassing for Maine, since they insisted on conducting the study in the first place.  I place a low probability on that outcome.  If that is the outcome, then we need to focus on the incoming administration and legislature.

If the result is a recommendation that we favor (as described by the KACTS or Rockingham County Planning Organization) then we need to turn our attention to getting the funding for the project.  This will require educating the incoming Maine administration and legislature as to the need for the investment.  We are already working to educate the leading Gubernatorial candidates, and will be working to do the same for the legislative candidates.

If the result is a recommendation that we do not favor (e.g., the bike/ped only bridge or the transportation option), then we will need to regroup and determine our next move.

there is another option

A combination of Alternatives 4 and 9 may provide the best hope of the available alternatives, but it needs to be viewed over a longer time period than just the next 5-7 years (remaining life of the SML bridge).  If Maine wants the hybrid bridge, does it need to have it right away?  Can we rehab the SML bridge and give it another 25 years life?  Can we then look again to see if there is a continuing need for the hybrid option?  

Gerry Audibert announced at the last Connections Study meeting that it might take 10-25 years to implement the approved bypass of Wiscasset.  If MDOT is thinking in those types of time frames, perhaps an alternative that addresses critical connectivity between the municipalities can be done today, and with some strategic repairs, push the decision on replacement off for another 10-25 years.  This would have an additional benefit of moving the three bridges here in the seasoast into three different cycles with different end of life dates, enabling Maine to redirect near term funding to other areas of the state.

Hopefully we can move this process forward.


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My son has been injured twice on this bridge. The first time he sprained his ankle walking his bike across the bridge. The second time he was so seriously injured when he crashed his bike on this bridge that, three months later, he is still in physical therapy. He is an experienced cyclist, having worked in bike shops for years and been a part of a racing team on Mt. Hood in Oregon. Thankfully, an angel in a pickup took him to the emergency room where he spent the next 8 hours. His bike is how he gets to work.
We walk this bridge several times a year, a few weeks ago we watched the Blue Angels practice from the bridge, a true tribute to the WW vets the bridge is devoted to. This is such an historic part of the city and a link between two great towns. It needs to be restored, look at what happened in Manchester, a beautiful engineering example torn down for a cement monster. This too is an historic example of riveting, the use of structural steel and the counterweight method of construction. It's awesome to be their when the bridge goes up. Don't let them take it down.
-Charles & Louise Horsken
Anybody remember when this bridge had a good coat of paint? That could be aproblem. Are the walkways made of cresote treated lumber or pressure treated after all pressure treated is not compatable with steel especially unpainted.Then what about paving the center span, how much additional weight? Then how much liquid calcium was used for anti-icing.This is rock salt on steriods. The bridge was probably designed for 100vears.Its evident that the steel is history now. A new bridge how much chinese junk you going to put in that. Good luck..........
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